“Doña Isabel de Porcel,” I announce reverently, as we stand in front of her portrait. You look unimpressed.

“My beloved,” I continue. “My one true love.”

“In love with a painting?  A woman from another century?” You throw back your head and laugh, then walk away muttering. “Estás loco! Possessed by a ghost!”

But who are you, to call me crazy? Who are you to call me possessed? It is you who lives the dry and dusty existence, settling for crumbs, while I climb to the stars! She is there, my Isabel, my Andalusian princess, there in the constellations, there on the ancient cliff side overlooking the canyon, there in the city of three bridges.

What do you know of love? What do you know of beauty? Were you to sit at Goya’s feet as he painted, you still would not recognize those lustrous eyes, those ripe, enchanting lips. You with your pack horse and abacus, measuring time in stingy pieces of silver, what do you know of joy?

I see my Isabel reaching down to me through the ages, her eyes like dark moons, her hair curling and whispering through her midnight mantilla. You say she’s a ghost. A ghost she may be, but what does that matter? You are but a tiny island, counting your coins, while I am a universe swirling to the dance of my beloved.

She has summoned me to Ronda, to the three bridges – Puente Romano, Puente Viejo, Puente Nuevo, connecting the ancient city to the new. A fourth bridge is close by, an invisible secret bridge, the Puente Eterno, connecting my life with hers. Once we cross it, we’ll be forever entwined.

Ah, I must go. Do you hear her calling me? Surely you can see her moving to the edge of the abyss. She emits a soft light. Her eyes shine with the glow of other worlds. She beckons and I run toward her with outstretched arms. I take her hand and we joyously stand at the gaping entrance to the beyond, the fourth bridge. Together, we step out into eternity.

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Voice-Team(@voice-team)
1 year ago

This story creates a medieval setting, immersing the reader in the narrator’s world. The use of personification (“stingy pieces of silver”) and metaphors (“You are but a tiny island . . . while I am a universe . . .”) draws the reader into the narrator’s mindset until “we step into eternity”. Beautifully written, other-wordly, and yet based on a real place, a real person, and a real painting. An impressive achievement!

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

My turn to educate myself from your story, as I am not familiar with the works of Goya. I have been to Ronda though. Is the coin counter anyone in particular?

Emily O'Leary
Emily O'Leary(@emily-oleary)
1 year ago

A very different tale to the rest. Lovingly written, you can feel the protagonists yearning.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Hello Fuji, I like the description of the painting. When I saw the face in the picture I thought how expressive, and wrote in that vein. I enjoyed this different approach.

Pragya Rathore
Pragya Rathore(@pragya-rathore)
1 year ago

I’m in awe of the lovely metaphors and descriptions you’ve used in this story. The prose was melodic and hypnotic and drew me in right from the first line. Isabel would truly be a beautiful painting to see. Great job!

Genya Johnson
Genya Johnson(@genya-johnson)
1 year ago

I could visualise the painting through your words. I loved your descriptions and how you brought the painting to life.

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

I wish I could give this story a hundred likes. It is extremely well worked through in all its beautifully expressed details (for example “I am a universe swirling to the dance of my beloved“!), with its romantic theme and its historic and factual background. I am glad that Isabel finally could meet with her admirer on the fourth, secret, invisible and eternal bridge, Puente (-a?) Eterna. And I am so sorry I didn’t go to Ronda last time I visited Malaga.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago
Reply to  Fuji

I just read this (thank you!) and your other comments to your “fans” (lol) and just want to add that you did an amazing job combining your factual research results with your own, personally inspired, creation. It’s an amazing combination. As for the Spanish word “puente”, it is a masculine noun, and an adjective that is combined with it takes on an -o at the end, just like you see in the other bridges’ names. But it was charming that “your” bridge got a special treatment by its creator!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

I just want to add that I didn’t know anything about Ronda when I first read your story. It was a fascinating discovery! Last week, I happened to see an incredible photo of Ronda, taken from above, with magnificent colors and clouds all around the city. You can also see one of the bridges. When I saw it, I felt so grateful for having read your story. It was like an extra greeting from you. I’m sorry I can’t include the photo here.

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
11 months ago
Reply to  Fuji

I’m sorry I didn’t see this extra comment right after you posted it, Fuji. Only now, more than half a year later, did I discover your question and see that you, with Voice.club’s help, got the correct Spanish name for your bridge: Puente Eterno.
The good thing is that I got to re-read your story again. Since it’s worth several re-readings, I am glad I did!
And I decided that I’ll send it to my twin-brother who lives in Malaga and tell him that he and his wife have to go to Ronda, haha!

Lydia E Atzemian
Lydia E Atzemian(@lydia-e-atzemian)
1 year ago

This is so humbling. I truly have so much to learn. This is such fine work there is just nothing left to say. The skill, the thought, you are a true master of words. I can only hope to create such pieces.

Lydia E Atzemian
Lydia E Atzemian(@lydia-e-atzemian)
1 year ago
Reply to  Fuji

Thank you so much for the advice and the kind words. I am waiting for my stories to get accepted. Looking forward to your feedback.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

A very different story with its medieval setting. Yet it was very nice and well written. You perfectly visualize the painting by your words.

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi(@katy-bizi)
1 year ago

Congratulations, Fuji, you’ve created a wonderful story filled with detailed descriptions and literary techniques!

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi(@katy-bizi)
1 year ago
Reply to  Fuji

You are very welcome! Continue writing such beautiful stories.

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